Holi is the Indian festival of colors. On this festival, people put colors on each other. It is a festival marked with a lot of fun and gaiety. In Northern India, on the day of Holi, Cannabis (called Bhang in Hindi) is used in beverages and food preparations as a custom in many families. It is not considered bad to take Bhang on this day as it is customary (that does not means everyone takes it). Many years ago, when I was in college, my friends decided to ‘test’ Bhang on a Holi as we had never taken it before. The incident which began as curiosity ended with hospitalization. I had never thought that I would share this incidence with anyone (out of shame) but since I recorded many symptoms of Cannabis during that period, I have decided to lay open some pages of my personal diary. The following text has been taken from my diary without editing. Only the names of my friends have not been revealed.
“before that on 20th it was Holi and what a Holi it was…
Dr. P was not in town. He had gone to his mama’s place. Rest of us decided against playing Holi. We thought we would just go and meet some of our regulars. We collected at Dr. T’s place at around 11. By 12, we were in slight Holi-wala mood, so we decided to buy some colors. When we stopped at Johri bazaar (market) to buy some colors, we saw a Bhang shop on the other side of the road. We decided to try it. It was decided that me and Dr. C would take half a tablet (goli – sold as cannabis pulp – not a hard tablet) each as we were not driving. Due to some confusion Dr. C bought pulp equal to 3 tablets or golis. I was unaware of this fact and took half of the pulp, i.e.; one and a half goli! Dr. C took 1/3rd of what was left and the rest we gave to somebody. (I must mention it here that even habitual cannabis eaters are not able to take more than 1 goli in a day)
Immediately after eating it, I knew I had taken this thing in toxic dose as within seconds I felt uneasy and a sensation developed as if a big ball was rising upwards from my stomach to my throat. Also, suddenly I developed extreme dryness in my mouth. I still had no idea of the crisis that was to follow. From there we went to Dr. P’s place and then to Dr. A’s place. From there we went to Dr. S’s place. Dr. S was not at home. By this time I developed a sensation that ants were crawling all over my body. The idea of distance also was not proper. There was a small drain (hardly 6 inches wide) in front of Dr. S’s house. When I tried to cross it, I made a huge jump. Even I was not able to understand why I did that.
From there we had to go to Dr. L’s place but my condition was growing so worse that we decided against it and started towards Dr. K’s place instead. We thought we would sleep there and everything would get all right. But we were wrong! On the way, in front of Jawahar Kala Kendra (Jawahar Art Center), I found myself too dizzy to sit behind the scooter. I asked K to stop the scooter. I sat on the ground and just collapsed. Yes! I was lying there on the road in a comatose condition. But before that I had told my friends to take me to the hospital emergency.
My friends panicked as I was not responding at all. They thought I was dead because my respiration was too shallow and I was not making any movement whatsoever! The strange thing was that although I was not able to make any voluntary movement but I was able to perceive what was happening around me even with closed eyes. I was able to make out that I was being driven to the hospital. I was even able to hear what was being said. By the time we reached the hospital I had developed complete motor paralysis. Not one voluntary muscle of my body seemed to respond.
Dr. C was awake and was not in a serious condition. I was given a gastric lavage and was admitted to the ward. There I developed severe urinary retention and had to be catheterized. I came into senses a few hours later. Initially we had thought that we would take leave by evening but we soon found out that this was a medico-legal case and we would need to stay overnight. Then we decided to tell Mummy and Daddy. I knew my credibility would be shattered but there was no option. By the time they came, I had improved enough to make them feel all right. K, T, and C stayed with me in the hospital that night. During the next 12 hours, there were episodic phases when I felt like nothing had happened (lucid intervals) and then I would again feel drowsy and out-of-senses.
I was ambulant by the next morning. By 2 p.m., we were at home. I decided to go to Delhi the very next day but this time Mummy wanted to accompany me. So on 22nd we started towards Delhi. I submitted my project report on 23rd. In Delhi, I met Amit and also bought lot of homeopathy books. We were back by 26th. It took me nearly 7 days after 20th to feel completely all right.
It was a very unpleasant and yet a very important learning experience. Now I will list the symptoms that appeared in me during those first 24 hours.
* Sensation as if a ball is rising from stomach to throat.
* Headache – in parietal region. Bursting, as if top of head would fly off. Throbbing headache.
* Extreme dryness of tongue, lips and buccal mucosa. As if parched. With numbness.
* Lips sticking to teeth with difficulty in opening the mouth due to very thick saliva.
* Involuntary desire to laugh, arising from stomach.
* Sensation as if ants were crawling over the whole body.
* Unable to place feet where intend to.
* Exaggeration of distance with sensation as if cut off from the real world.
* Exaggeration of time & distance. Small distance seemed large.
* Sensation of heat in anus.
* Complete motor paralysis with acute senses, especially, hearing.
* Retention of urine.
* Involuntary twitching of muscles and shaking of limbs.
* Involuntary shaking of head.
* Diminished sensation of pain.
* Backache in loins. Better lying on back.
Some other symptoms that Dr. C developed because of his nontoxic dose were –
* Exaggeration of time & distance. Small distance seemed long.
* Irrelevant and unintelligible talking with a sense of gaiety.
* Increased appetite.
* Sensation as if he has no tongue.
* Better by drinking black coffee and by bathing.”
So friends this is the whole story. I would like you to check the materia medica for cannabis now and see how the proving agrees with the symptoms in our materia medica.
Dr. Manish Bhatia